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Podiatrist, Emma McConnachie, tells us that her knowledge and expertise saved her father’s life!

28th November 2019

“After helping to save my Dad’s life twice in 3 months, he says that I am almost even for the cost of supporting me through university, but he does do with a twinkle in his eye!”

I am a podiatrist within the private sector, and I have been qualified for 15 years. 

In my role as a Podiatrist I have been fortunate to help many patients over the years, but in March 2018 I ended up having to assist my father. My Podiatry degree covered the whole body which allowed me to spot the neurological symptoms of my father’s first stroke and then his haemorrhage.

He has a genetic disorder called Marfan’s Syndrome which had already caused a series of health issues including an aortic aneurysm at 45 and blindness in one eye in his 50s. At this point he was 67. We were on the last day of a family holiday when he fell out of bed when trying to get up in the morning. Being partially sighted in unfamiliar surroundings we thought nothing of it but that morning he had slight difficulty with his right side (the side he fell on) and was very tired.

I was concerned that he may have been experiencing side effects due to a new medication change. I had picked up the signs of a small stroke a few weeks previous and had got him urgent care resulting in new medication. We returned home and I checked on him a few hours later to find him in bed as he was exhausted.

I urged my mother to call NHS24 for advice on stopping his medication and they arranged for an urgent appointment within a couple of hours. Neither of my parents saw the need to call for advice and just wished to let him rest but I was concerned about the nature of his symptoms.

When we went to wake him, he had lost full control of both his legs and was disoriented. At this point we rushed him to hospital where he was taken immediately and was diagnosed with a double-sided brain haemorrhage worsened by the blood thinning medication he takes for his heart. He received emergency neurosurgery to drain over a litre of blood from his skull with another litre draining over the next 24 hours. The prognosis going into surgery was grim and we were warned it did not look good.

Luckily, he came through the surgery with a result that the surgeon called “miraculous” and he has been left with very minimal issues. He was even cracking jokes with the nurses hours after his surgery. We have been told that he is exceptionally lucky that I got him to hospital when I did as that is the biggest factor in his recovery.

I am exceptionally grateful to the teams that saved his life in NHS Lothian and to the staff at Queen Margaret University who trained me to spot these signs without whom I would not have a father now.

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